Are the 12 Steps of Al-Anon the Same as the Others?
The basic concepts behind the 12 steps are the same as other 12 step meetings. Each Al-Anon group is separate from the organization. The 12 traditions explain how this works. Most 12 step programs change the wording of the 12 steps but not the meaning behind them. Although Al-Anon mirrors the 12 step concept, it is not exactly the same as Alcoholics Anonymous or other 12 step programs.
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What is Al-Anon?
Al-Anon is a 12 step program that provides a sense of community and support for the families of alcoholics. Any family member can join. The only requirement of for joining is that you have a person in your life who is an alcoholic. This can be a friend or a family member. At Al-Anon you can meet others who are in the same circumstance as you are and share stories with them. The idea behind Al-Anon is that people are not responsible for the actions of the alcoholic. They are however responsible for their own actions. By taking responsibility for yourself, the hope is that you move towards positive change in your life.
The 12 Steps of Al-Anon
The basic 12 steps are:
- Admit that you are powerless to the alcohol, and that life is no longer manageable.
- Believe in a higher power that could restore your sanity.
- Make the choice to turn your will and you life over to the higher power as you understand it.
- Make an inventory of yourself, even the things that are bad and wrong.
- Admit to the higher power, yourself, and one other person the wrongs you have done.
- Make yourself ready for the higher power to remove your shortcomings.
- Ask the higher power to remove the issues with your character.
- List all of the people who you have harmed and prepare to make amends.
- Make amends to these people as long as it does not hurt them to do so.
- Continue on this path, keep a personal inventory, and admit when you are wrong.
- Seek to improve your contact with the higher power through mediation and prayer.
- Have a spiritual awakening because of these steps and spread the message of the Al-Anon group.
This is the basic idea of the 12 steps. Part of the program is to complete these steps in order. When one step is finished start on the next one. These are basically the same throughout 12 step programs. Each has its own version of them but the principle and meaning are the same.
The 12 Traditions
Sometimes the 12 steps are mistaken with the 12 traditions. The 12 traditions govern meetings and the behavior of meeting coordinators and chairpersons. According to Al-Anon, the 12 traditions are:
- The common goals and welfare of the group come first.
- The higher power is the only authority, the chairperson and the leaders of the group do not govern.
- The only requirement for membership is the alcoholism of a family member or a friend.
- Each group is an individual entity except when it concerns Al-Anon as a whole or Alcoholics Anonymous.
- The group only has one purpose. This purpose is to help those who have family members or friends who are alcoholics.
- The family groups are not to use the Al-Anon name, unless it is in relation to the group or program.
- The groups are self supporting and do accept donations from outside the group.
- Al-Anon groups are not professional organizations. They only employ people under special circumstances.
- The groups should never be organized except when there is a need for a board they directly serve those in the group.
- The groups should have no opinion on outside factors such as politics or other affiliations.
- Public advertising is for attraction not promotion. This is an anonymous group and anonymity must be maintained.
- Principles should be placed above personalities.
These 12 traditions govern the way groups are organized and the group actions. These are also the same across the different 12 step organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous.
12 Step Meetings in Al-Anon
The 12 steps are a way to deal with the stresses of having an alcoholic friend or family member. The meetings in Al-Anon are to help you with that goal. The people who attend 12 step meetings are in the same situation as you are. Feeling alone is one of the problems that you encounter when dealing with an alcoholic. The meetings help you understand that even though you might feel that way, you are not.
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How to Find a 12 Step Meeting
The best way to learn more about the 12 steps and Al-Anon is to attend a meeting. Most doctors and counselors can direct you to one. The meetings are also in the phone book and on the internet. Finding a meeting is easy. Getting the courage to go to one is not.
If you feel that you would benefit from the understanding, lack of judgment, and sense of community that Al-Anon provides then there is no harm in going. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, family and community intervention programs such as Al-Anon can also help the Alcoholic on the way to their recovery. When you seek treatment and guidance, you can use it to help those in your life with an Alcohol problem.